an info-sec epiphany

from The Spymaster, a report on the US Intelligence Community by Lawrence Wright for The New Yorker (January 14, 2008).

Ed Giorgio, a security consultant who worked at the N.S.A. under [current Director of Intellgence Mike] McConnell, and who is the only person to have been the nation’s chief code breaker and its chief code maker, said, “Early on, Mike had what many directors of the N.S.A. have near the end of their tenure — that is, an info-sec epiphany.

Giorgio warned me [reporter at large Lawrence Wright], “We have a saying in this business:

‘Privacy and security are a zero-sum game.’ “

I [Wright] asked McConnell if he believed that Al Qaeda was really the greatest threat America faces.

No, no, no, not at all,” he said. “Terrorism can kill a lot of people, but it can’t fundamentally challenge the ability of the nation to exist. Fascism could have done that. Communism could have. I think our issue going forward is more engagement with the world in terms of keeping it on a reasonable path, so another ism doesn’t come along and drive it to one extreme or another. And we have to have some balance in terms of equitable distribution of wealth, containment of contagious disease, access to energy supplies, and development of free markets. There are national-security ramifications to global warming.”

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